Suzanne Crane impressed real Mountain Laurel leaves from the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains onto the leather-hard clay of this wheel-thrown stoneware lamp base. She then painted a thin layer of white porcelain slip over the leaves and the rest of the base, then pulled the leaves off, leaving both a fossil impression of the leaves’ veins and a shadow image of them. After that, she pressed a complicated point pattern on the rim of the lamp using a church-key (just an old-fashioned can/bottle opener tool). After the piece was dry enough, she turned it upside down on her wheel and trimmed the bottom, so it would be pleasingly shaped, then again applied the church-key. Then the piece was set aside to dry for at least a week before it was placed in a kiln and fired to bisque temperature–just hot enough to vitrify the clay to the point that it can withstand the mind-numbingly complicated glazing process that Suzanne’s assistant, Brenda Roberts, puts each piece through. The various stages of glazing take three to four days before a piece is ready to be put into the glaze firing. That firing takes about 8 hours, and then takes a day and a half to cool. Then, and only then can we take a piece out of the kiln and begin to think about wiring it up as a lamp–IF it hasn’t suffered any number of possible tragedies in the kiln.
Yes, it is a labor of love. And of dedicated artisanship.
20.5″ to the finial, 16″ in diameter at the bottom of the shade. Wired for a three-way bulb.